Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pregnancy as a Protected Characteristic under the California FEHA

For a lot of pregnant women, giving birth is something that is anticipated with such great excitement and joy. But before the time comes when they have to undergo labor and deliver the newborn, expecting mothers often face difficulties, especially those who still perform their jobs in the workplace.


Going to work while carrying a child for nine months is already hard enough, but some pregnant women often suffer workplace discrimination and harassment simply because of their condition. Even though they are entitled to leaves in order for them to give birth, they find out upon their return that they have been terminated. Indeed, such treatment proves that some employer treat pregnant employees as liabilities instead of as assets.

Pregnant employees are protected by the law

Fortunately in California, the law provides broad protections for pregnant employees against workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Women employees who are pregnant, are recovering from childbirth, or have a medical condition related to their pregnancy or childbirth are protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Not only that, but the FEHA also provides that they should not be denied or interfered of their rights in employment.

As such, employers covered by the FEHA are entitled to exercise their obligations towards pregnant employees. These employer duties include the following:

·         Provide reasonable accommodations, particularly with regard to the medical needs of the employees (e.g. allowing them to take breaks frequently, modifying their job duties for the time being).

·         Transfer them to certain job positions wherein they can perform duties without any hazards or need to exert more physical work.

·         Provide them with PDL, or pregnancy disability leave, which can be taken up to 4 months

·         Return them to the same jobs they left before they took their PDLs or, if the same jobs are no longer available, put them in comparable jobs.

·         Allow them to use a room or any other location near their respective work areas for them to express breast milk in private.

Pregnant women and their obligations

Apart from the obligations set forth by the law for employers, pregnant employees should also be aware of their own duties. As it is, they should be able to provide their employers notices in case they need to be reasonably accommodate, have themselves transferred to less strenuous jobs, or take leaves of absences through PDL. This must be done 30 days in advance; otherwise, they may do so as soon as it is deemed practicable or if the need is unforeseeable or due to emergency. Also, because employers often require written medical certification from the health care provider, it is imperative for pregnant employees to provide it, especially when asking for a reasonable accommodation, a transfer, or PDL.

Meanwhile, it is also an obligation of pregnant employees to file claims against their employers who either discriminate or harass them for their condition or failed to provide reasonable accommodations or PDL. To do this, they may submit their claims with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or they may seek the expertise of a Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What’s in the GINA for an Employee Like You?

Image credit: lifesciencesfoundation.org
What does genetic information has to do with your job? This is the question that a lot of people have been asking given that the Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 has been made to protect the same. And so we will discuss the things that every employee needs to know about genetic information and why it matters to you and every employee in California and all over the country.


What is “Genetic Information” and what’s in it for you?

One’s genetic information includes some important things about one person. It includes one’s family medical history, information about one person or family member’s genetic tests. These tests include the possibility of an individual’s increased risk of developing sicknesses like cancer, even records of visits by one’s family member to get genetic counseling or being a part of clinical research works for genetic testing. Now with this providing a lot of information about you and your family, would you feel okay if somebody else is looking for and checking it out?


Why Is the GINA Needed in the Workplace?

Some employers use any sort of information they could have to make employment decisions. One of those is one’s genetic information which is not at all relevant to gauge a person’s ability to work. And so employees are barred from doing the following:

-          Get an employee’s genetic information,

-          Offer a genetic services to an employee, or

-          Acquire genetic information from “commercially and publicly available” sources.

And so, an employer should keep any genetic information that it does acquire about one applicant or employee confidential.


What To Do If Your Rights Under the GINA Are Violated?

You can ask for the help of an employment law attorney in Los Angeles to prepare and file a claim against the employer. Filing such claims should be made within 180 days of the alleged violation. This way, you will be able to get reinstated to your work and be compensated for the pain and suffering that such violation has done to you and your family members.


There are some things that you would rather not know about. However, the protection of your genetic information from use and abuse of some employers is very important for your safety as well. That is why you should protect this vital information about you to prevent being used and abused by some unscrupulous employers.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MSHA Monthly Inspections: Helping Ensure the Safety of Every American Miner

To cap a rather good campaign in 2013, the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has released the latest report about their impact inspections for the last month of the year. 

Photo from inside.mines.edu

MSHA’s Monthly Inspections: What’s In It?

This monthly inspection began in April 2010 after an explosion happened at the Upper Big Branch Mine. These accidents involve mines that are quite notorious for their poor compliance with the MSHA’s requirements. Through these inspections, the MSHA are able to detect various violations and thus recommend a course of action to the Labor Department to be able to eliminate these hazards. This in turn helps ensure the safety of the miners in the workplace.

MSHA’s December 2013 Inspection Results

Conducted on December 11, 2013, the MSHA made an impact inspection while in the day shift of Hanover Resources LLC’s Caymus Mine in Boone County West Virginia. According to their inspection, the MSHA has noticed seven “unwarrantable failure orders”, as well as six 104 (a) citations in the first-ever impact inspection at the mine.

Also, the MHSA has conducted another impact inspection this time it was held at the Veris Gold U.S.A. Inc’s Jerritt Canyon Mill in Elko County, Nevada. The Mill received 61 citations that included unsafe working habits for employees that have endangered their lives.

Need for Continuous Inspections

As a way to protect their employees while in the workplace, a mining operator should adhere to the MSHA directed safety guidelines to help ensure the health and well-being of their talents. Meeting these criteria also makes it easier and safer for employees to perform their jobs promoting workplace safety and the avoidance of accidents. With the tremendous, overwhelming amounts of danger that one may encounter while in a mining site, employees need these companies to adhere to the MHSA’s guidelines. This way the occurrence of accidents in the workplace can be minimized and workers would not end up getting hurt or killed.

In cases where one person gets hurt because of these violations an employee can sue their employer by seeking the help of a Los Angeles employment attorney and filing the right employment charges against them. That is why as workers, you should be made aware of what your rights are so you can protect yourself from abuse and get the things that you truly deserve, like fair treatment and pay, as well as a good working conditions conducive for productivity and success.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

OSC and EEOC Work Together to Enforce EEO Laws for Feds

Can’t one agency alone get the job done of enforcing laws? Apparently not, cause this is more of synergy than incompetence. In their aim to help effectively implement equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws in the federal sector, two US agencies have renewed their pact of working together to achieve a great goal.

EEOC and OSC: Together for Fed Workers

While there have been many EEO laws that have been implemented over the years, one can’t deny that there are still inequalities in the federal workplace. Some people still fall victims to harassment, and discrimination, keeping the good employees ineffective in doing their jobs, and the undeserving people getting credit for the job done.

The EEOC’s main function is to enforce the federal laws to prevent employment discrimination. On the other hand, the OSC is tasked to protect the federal employees as well as others from “prohibited personnel practices” like discrimination, coercion of the person’s political activity, deception and obstruction of an employee to compete for employment, nepotism, reprising against whistleblowing, threatening to take a personnel action as a form of retaliation, among others. There is a great similarity in the function of the two agencies; and so synergizing their efforts in properly implementing EEO laws in the federal workplace would be very ideal. This prompted the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the US Equal employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to come up with a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that commits to enhancing efficiency and the enforcement of federal sector EEO laws.

In a simple ceremony, EEOC’s chair Jacqueline Berrien and OSC’s head Carolyn Lerner signed the MOU between the two agencies. This MOU that supersedes all of the prior ones signed, includes – but is not limited to – the following points:

•    The EEOC will be referring to the OSC when it comes to potential enforcement action cases where the former finds that an agency, an officer, or its employee has made any acts of discrimination against any of the employees or applicants for employment

•    Likewise, the EEOC will refer to the OSC for potential enforcement action cases where a federal agency fails in complying with an EEOC order, as well as any other case or matter that need warrants enforcement by the OSC, as determined by the EEOC.

•    Should the EEOC determine that the employing agency failed to, or will not at all take the appropriate action, the OSC may intervene to investigate such matters up to a point needed so that it can determine the sufficiency of the basis for coming up with such disciplinary action.

While developments like these make things easier for federal employees to protect their rights and stand up against discrimination, the importance of the views of a good California employment lawyer cannot be discounted. They say two heads are better than one. Now imagine having a lawyer further boosting your chances of winning your claims? Yes, two agencies working together are indeed more effective than one. And with the little help from a competent attorney, the possibility of winning that case against abusive federal agencies is almost within reach.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

California’s Minimum Wage Increase: Yay or Nay?

Image Credits: Washingtonpost.com

One of the highest minimum wages is about get higher once more. California Governor Jerry Brown has recently signed into law, a bill that would again raise the already high minimum wage in the state. Under this new law, the current $8.00 per dollar will then be raised to 9.00 per hour this July. According to the same law, the minimum wage in the state will be raised to $10 by January 2016. That makes the minimum wages in California well above the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

How the bill was passed into law?

It is no secret that the cost of living in California is one of the highest in the United States. Such has caused a big problem for poor and middle class families. This has prompted the Democrats to make a measure that can help the low-wage workers in the state. In spite of its good intentions, many Republicans tried to stop this law as they believed that the minimum wage of employees is not the main problem. And so these Democrat assembly members have tried their best to lobby the prevention of the bill from being passed as they argued that such increases would be hurting local small businesses. Despite this opposition though, this new minimum wage law had an overwhelming 26-11 Senate vote and a 51-25 Assembly vote.


Opposing ideas

Assemblyman Luis Alejo explained the reason behind why he drafted the wage increase bill. He argued that the poor and middle-class families are not earning enough because of the families’ low income. Given the high cost of living in the state, Alejo believes that now is the time increase the minimum wage in California. On the other hand, Republican Brian Jones said that this increase effectively makes the state unfriendly to entrepreneurs looking to open or operate business in California. High labor costs, according to him, would discourage businessmen from investing or starting a business in the state. Another Republican, Connie Conway supported Jones’ ideas. Conway argued that such move could backfire and instead make things difficult for poor and middle-class families. According to her, the high cost of labor can actually cause businesses to close down, cause unemployment. Conway also said that such move could force struggling businessmen to cut business hours or remove some employees from their jobs.


Wage Law Violations

Even when the minimum wage in California was still lower, many employers have been repeatedly failing to follow this legislation. However, despite these violations, victims fail to stand up and report incidents of wage law violations committed by companies. Though difficult for their business, employers have the responsibility of giving their employees as prescribed by the law. If you have been a victim of wage law violations, you should immediately hire a top employment attorney and file the necessary charges against your employer.

You may also find this article helpful for you: 13 States raise minimum wage on the first day of 2014

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New California Employment and Labor Laws to Watch Out for in 2014

The year 2014 is just around the corner, and as it is, everyone in the workforce, both employers and employees, are expecting changes in the California employment and labor. New laws signed by Calif. Governor Jerry Brown will be made effective next year, and as such, employers would have to make the necessary changes in their employment handbooks, as well as in their practices and policies.

Here is the list of some of the notable employment and labor laws in California to watch out for in 2014:


•    Assembly Bill 10. This bill was signed September 25 of this year, which would raise the state’s minimum wage from the current per-hour rate of $8.00 to $9.00 on July 1, 2014. By Jan. 1 2016, the minimum wage would increase once again, this time to $10.00. This bill, however, has been met with criticisms, especially from some businesses in California.

•    Senate Bill 770. This bill expanded the Paid Family Leave program of qualified California workers. Before the law, employees who took time off to take care of a child, spouse, parent or domestic partner with a serious illness, or to bond with an adopted or foster child can collect state disability insurance. The new law, which will be made effective July 1 next year, would include taking care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and in-laws.

•    Senate Bill 496. This newly-signed bill would protect workers from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for reporting local law violations.

•    Assembly Bill 218. Signed into law October 10, this bill states that local and state government agencies searching for potential employees are now prohibited from asking applicants regarding their criminal convictions. Here, agencies may still ask for the prospects’ criminal background, so long as the former determine the minimum employment qualifications.

•    Assembly Bill 263. This newly-signed bill would protect employees against unfair employer practices related to immigration, especially if they exercise their rights that are protected under the state’s Labor Code. Here, covered employers are not allowed to threatening employees in contacting immigration authorities when the latter complains about certain employer violations.

With these new laws taking into effect in 2014, employees can expect stronger protections against discrimination and other unfair employment practices, as well as be made aware of the changes in the realm of California labor. Meanwhile, an employee who thinks his or her employer violated any provisions in any of these new laws may consult with an expert Los Angeles employment lawyer.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

California Becomes 7th State to Forbid Employment Discrimination Against Victims of Domestic Violence

Employees in California who had been victims of domestic violence can now rejoice after Governor Jerry Brown  signed last October 11 Senate Bill 400, a bill that would provide them protections against employment discrimination.

Stop domestic violence!
Image: chetna-dfw.org

Effective at the start of 2014, the newly-signed bill makes it unlawful for covered California employers to discriminate or retaliate against, or wrongfully terminate employees who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The legislation also requires employers to provide victims reasonable safety accommodations, including changing a work phone number and implementing a safety plan within the workplace, among others.

SB 400 was sponsored by Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). With the signing of the bill, California became just the seventh state to forbid workplace bias against victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault in any aspect of employment, following Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

It can be remembered that the introduction of SB 400 in the legislature was primarily brought into the spotlight after an incident involving a California teacher named Carie Chatsworth. She was a second-grade teacher of 14 years at an elementary school in El Cajon when she was fired last April after her estranged husband who verbally and emotionally abused her for several years went to the school’s parking lot, causing the campus to go on a preventive lockdown.

The man was later arrested; however, Chatsworth later received a notice telling her that the events that transpired involving her former husband resulted in her contract to teach for the school to not be renewed.

Long before the bill was passed and was still being heard in the California Senate, Chatsworth testified before a Senate committee, explaining the need of victims “to be able to speak up about what is happening so they can get the help they need to leave their abusive situation.” Fortunately, the bill was passed, thanks to the all-out support from its sponsors, as well as civil rights groups.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles employment lawyers see this recent legislation as a great way to extend employment protections to employees working in California. With the passage of the bill, legal professionals believe that victims of domestic violence are no longer at risk of losing their jobs.